Judge praises teenager for progress since killings committed aged eight
A boy who was eight when he fatally shot two men, including his father, has been praised for his progress as his time on probation comes to an end.
Judge Monica Stauffer told the boy she knows the past nine years have not been easy but admired him for the way he has handled the situation.
Wednesday was the final hearing in the case that troubled police and prosecutors because the boy was so young at the time of the shootings.
The criminal charges were resolved in juvenile court with the boy pleading guilty to negligent homicide in the death of 39-year-old Tim Romans, whom he called for from inside his home and shot with a .22-caliber single-shot rifle as Romans walked up to the door in 2008.
Prosecutors said that acknowledging legal responsibility for the death of his father, 29-year-old Vincent Romero, would be too heavy of a burden for a boy to carry and dropped that charge. Mr Romans rented a room in the two-storey blue house that Mr Romero shared with his new wife and son.
Judge Stauffer told the boy, who turns 18 on Friday: "I'm real proud of you and you're going to do great things.
"So much of your life is still for you to live and enjoy."
Those attending the hearing were not specific about progress the teen has made but said he has shown remorse, learned to manage finances, has set goals for himself and has a good heart.
The boy thanked those who have listened to him, adding: "I'm just very grateful to everyone in the case."
Judge Stauffer, sitting in St. Johns, Arizona, credited the boy's grandmother, Liz Castillo, for ensuring the case moved along with the boy's best interest in mind.
Mrs Castillo sat in the front row of the courtroom with her daughter and sister nearby, wiping tears from her eyes. She said the last nine years have been treacherous but was grateful for the consideration put into the case.
She said Mr Romero and Mr Romans always would be in her family's mind and hearts.
"We hoped and prayed we could get through this, and the time is here," she said.